8 Oct 2014

Back-up generator 'essential' for farmers

3:32 pm on 8 October 2014

A dairy farming leader says as power cuts become more common, having an emergency generator back-up to run milking sheds is a no-brainer.

Severe winds this week have disrupted power supplies in western Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Manawatu, Whanganui, Wairarapa and Tararua.

Federated Farmers dairy chair Andrew Hoggard had to switch on his emergency generator in Manawatu this week. He has had one for years and regards it as essential equipment for a dairy farming operation.

"When you move to a bigger operation where you've got large herd numbers and milk may take two or more times longer and you've got a lot of milk in your vat that needs cooling, I think it's essential to have that back-up generator, unless you're right on the outskirts of town when you may think you're safe. But even then, I guess the people in Ponsonby in Auckland found out this week they weren't.

"And when you look at it, a large vat of milk is often the same price as a modern, good quality generator - so I think it's a bit of a no-brainer to be honest."

Mr Hoggard said power outages have been an issue in his area and they often lose power in spring when there are high winds.

"This week we've done two milkings on a generator and the new generator we got last year we're supposed to use it once a month for maintenance - but we didn't even need to schedule maintenance, we ended up using it at least once or twice a month through to about January, I think."

Mr Hoggard say he already had a generator when the big Manawatu floods hit in 2004, knocking out power for several days and it paid for itself many times over.

Waikato Farmers president Chris Lewis, who milks 1100 cows, says he was planning to buy a new generator this year, until milk prices plummeted.

"I was just about to buy one at the Fieldays, and then I saw the payout forecast, so we're trying to trim back our expenses, so that got chopped.

"My cow shed is wired up already for a generator, so we can just about plug and play, but a lot of farmers I talk to it is on their shopping list. If it wasn't for a low payout, it would be a big sale item, I guess."

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